Friday, January 8, 2016

Pokljiuka and Winter Break

How did that go by so fast??

After World Cup 2 in Hochfilzen, we traveled to beautiful Bled, Slovenia for World Cup 3. The venue is a half-hour drive up a winding mountain road from Bled, in a place called Pokljiuka. My parents came to watch this event and very much enjoyed the scenery, biathlon racing, and local wines.

Bled is a fairytale city on a lake, with one castle on a cliff and one on an island.
Sunrise rays under the mist on Lake Bled
Sunset on Lake Bled
As for the racing, I had another week of solid shooting and slow skiing! After missing two in prone, I knew I had to hit my standing targets or else I would have no chance of making the pursuit (top 60). I took my time on the range, and for only the fourth time ever in a race, I hit all my standing targets! But little did I know I already had no chance at the pursuit. Even with clean standing shooting I left the range in the high 70's and eventually finished in 85th. I can only hope that my body will feel rested and ready to go faster after Christmas.

Newly-acquired Dirndl!
Then I had a much-needed break! On Sunday night after the last race in Pokljiuka, I attended the US Biathlon Christmas party at the Hirzinger Hotel and Restaurant in Riedering, Germany. It was so special to be with all of my hardworking teammates and staff in a non-work environment (i.e. party). We feasted on duck and Kaiserschmarn, drank lots of Weisbeir, were serenaded by a bavarian brass quintet, and sang Christmas carols (Stille Nacht, Oh Tannenbaum) long into the night. Many of our staff hail from Bavaria, so as is customary for formal events in the region, the dress code was lederhosen for men and dirndl for women.

Crowds at a Christmas market in Innsbruck
 My mom in Innsbruck
Then I reconvened with my parents in Innsbruck, Austria, where we were joined by my younger brother Graham! I did not travel back to the US for Christmas but instead my family came to me-- minus my older brother Guy who is living in California :-(.  This was great for me, because I avoided the arduous travel, and great for them because they got to go on vacation. Innsbruck was a fun foray into an urban setting for a change. Then we went to Lech, Austria which is an alpine ski resort in the Alberg region of western Austria. My cousin Cecily and her husband Thomas live in Austria and recommended Lech to us, as Thomas worked there for many years. They joined us for several days at Christmas and were great guides. It was a spectacular place for skiing, even with little snow. Cecily and her dad (my Uncle David) can be credited with taking me cross-country skiing for the very first time when I was about 12 in New Hampshire. She also skied with me every day and Lech!

Morning view from our hotel
View from the top of one of the gondolas. Endless skiing!
After a week in Lech, I headed to the Italian Dolomites for a week of "training" with my boyfriend. We were in Antholz which is yet another magical place. We enjoyed New Year's Eve and his birthday together. To sum it up, I had a very, very nice break.

Now it is back to work! The women's sprint is at 2:30pm local time on Friday here in Ruhpolding, Germany.

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